IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/sae/pophec/v10y2011i3p301-322.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Republican freedom, rights, and the coalition problem

Author

Listed:
  • Keith Dowding

    (Australian National University, Australia, keith.dowding@anu.edu.au)

Abstract

Republican freedom is freedom from domination juxtaposed to negative freedom as freedom from interference. Proponents argue that republican freedom is superior since it highlights that individuals lose freedoms even when they are not subject to interference, and claim republican freedom is more ‘resilient’. Republican freedom is trivalent, that is, it includes the idea that someone might be non-free to perform some actions rather than unfree, and in that sense everyone regards republican freedom as different from negative freedom. Trivalence makes republican freedom moralized according to negative libertarians. Beyond that, negative libertarians argue that all the supposed advantages of republican freedom are compatible with those of pure negative-freedom measures. That is, losses and gains of republican freedom are captured in measures of pure negative freedom, and any protection for republican freedom also protects negative freedom, ensuring each is equally resilient. Since republican freedom has no advantages over negative freedom, but has other problems (is moralized and is trivalent), negative freedom is superior. I examine this debate in this article through the ‘coalition problem’ for republican freedom. The coalition problem is that since there is always a coalition of others who could dominate any agent in any sphere, all agents are subject to domination, and hence no one can ever have republican freedom. Pettit’s simple solution to this reductio ad absurdum distinguishes potential from actual coalitions. Individuals are only dominated by actual coalitions, and not by potential ones. The simple solution highlights moralization problems as it demonstrates that domination cannot be purely institutionally defined, but requires consideration of dispositions and expectations about others’ behaviour. I argue that the differences between the ‘free man’ and ‘unfree person’ paradigmatic to republican arguments is best captured not by the difference between domination and interference, but, rather, from familiar distinctions between different types of rights and freedoms. Resilience is a practical matter that might track some of these familiar distinctions.

Suggested Citation

  • Keith Dowding, 2011. "Republican freedom, rights, and the coalition problem," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 10(3), pages 301-322, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:10:y:2011:i:3:p:301-322
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ppe.sagepub.com/content/10/3/301.abstract
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    Keywords

    freedom; liberty; republicanism; rights;

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:10:y:2011:i:3:p:301-322. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.